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Bulldogs lose a heartbreaker to end historic season

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PRINCETON — One of the best seasons in Princeton High boys basketball history came to a disappointingly early end Thursday with a 56-51 loss at home to John A. Holmes of Edenton in the second round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1-A playoffs.

The game was a track meet from the opening tip, but the Aces (24-4), seeded No. 10 in the East Region and the runners-up from the Albemarle Conference, would use a couple of turnovers followed by easy baskets to take a 14-8 lead after the first eight minutes. In the second quarter, the Carolina Conference champion and No. 7-seeded Bulldogs would claw back and tie the game thanks to the Aces getting into foul trouble and a couple of 3-pointers by Lamarr Wilkins. The Aces would use their stingy defense to make a little run late in the half to take a 28-22 lead at halftime.

The Bulldogs tied the game with two minutes left in the third quarter and then went on a 10-3 run to take a 41-34 lead going into the final quarter. However, the Aces reclaimed the lead with about a minute to go in the game.

Down 54-51 with 14 seconds to go in the game, Princeton senior Colby Sullivan dribbled the ball down the court and fired up what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer, but the basket was waved off because it bounced off the shot clock.

“I thought the ball was good coming off the hand. That’s the shot you dream of when you are playing in the backyard, and it just sucks it had to end like that,” Sullivan said.

Holmes took possession and then hit two free throws to seal the win and move on to the third round of the state playoffs against No. 2 Henderson Collegiate.

“I am very proud of the way my team played tonight,” said Princeton head coach David Cobb. “I have no regrets about this game. Both teams made mistakes, and it was just a fight to the end. They are the best team we have faced all year.”

The Aces were led by senior Antuan Sharpe with 15 points. Senior Lamarr Wilkins led the Bulldogs with 13 points.

The 2018-19 basketball season will go down as one of the best in Princeton boys basketball history. The Bulldogs, who finished 23-3, were the fourth team in the program’s history to win a conference championship and the first since 2010-11 season. It would be the first time since the 2013-14 season that they would make it to the second round of the playoffs. It would be the first undefeated conference champion in school history. Also, according to Cobb, this team won more games this season than any other Princeton team has in 50 years.

“We have accomplished a lot this year, these boys have won more games than any team in 50 years, and we are also the first undefeated conference champions. Those boys have so much to be proud of, and I’m just proud of our team” said Cobb.

The Bulldogs’ nine seniors will leave a lasting legacy as they have accomplished so much in their four years of play.

“Filling in for Alan (Farrior), Colby and Lamarr — they are hard to replace,” Cobb said. “It’s not just scoring points. Lamarr is one of the best defenders you will ever see. They will all be missed, and we have a lot to rebuild next season.

“This is definitely one of the top teams I have ever been a part of, and it has been an unbelievable this season,” Sullivan said. “Every day at practice I didn’t dread a single day, and it just sucks it had to end tonight. I couldn’t imagine playing with a better group of guys.”

John A. Holmes (56)

Sharpe 15, Stanley 14, Downing 9, Boston 6, Will 6, White 2, Raynor 2, Wilson 2.

Princeton (51)

Wilkins 13, Waller 10, Sullivan 7, Taylor 7, Joyner 6, Farrior 6, Klein 2.

Score by quarters:

John A. Holmes1414622—56

Princeton8141910—51

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